Monday, February 9, 2009

January 9th- Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

We got up fairly early to start our journey to Mt. Kilimanjaro! It was a little over a two hour drive to Kilimanjaro National Park! Once there, we ate a quick lunch and departed on our hike.

We took the Marangu Route. Elevation at the park was 6,400 ft which consisted of a forest ecosystem. Unfortunately, we did not make it past the first hut/checkpoint so we did not get to see the other ecosystems (Moorland, Alpine desert, & Ice cap) that could be experienced on the way to the top!

The hike consisted of winding dirt paths filled with rocks and branches. Some portions of the path were very steep and took your breath away! While it was tough to hike up the up path, I thought it was more challenging to walk it back down and took a few tumbles. Altogether the climb lasted about 4 hours!
Later that night we had some time to rest and eat dinner on our own. Some of us then went to a local club to celebrate Krystle's 21st birthday!

Saturday, January 17th: Bus Trip to Dar

On the morning of Saturday, January 17th the group had to wake up pretty early in order to catch a bus that would take us from Arusha to Dar es Salaam. The bus was a very nice coach bus with comfortable seats and even a TV in the front that everyone could watch. The ride was going to take us about 8 to 9 hours so we all settled in for a long trip. Unfortunately, the bus left without Samson and he had to track us down. Somehow he got the bus to stop so he could get on and then we were really on our way. The trip was not nearly as bad as I think we all expected it to be. Although the bus only stopped once for a very short bathroom and lunch break, it was amazing to really see the country of Tanzania. Even though the air conditioning broke, everybody either slept, listened to music, talked with each other, or watched the movie Prey that was playing on the bus TV and the trip was done before we knew it. Once we arrived in Dar we were all extremely excited to see a new city and couldn't wait to get settled into our new hotel, The Golden Tulip. Overall, it was a very laid back day but it was exciting to see the country of Tanzania and get some much needed rest before our adventures began in Dar.

By: Stephanie Rohr :)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

January 6th, 2009. Departure day!

On January 6th, the excited group of UW-L travelers met at the International Minneapolis Airport. Our flight was schedulded for take off at 3:15 PM, and luckily, everyone was not only ontime but most were very early and ended up hanging out in the airport for about three hours before we boarded. We flew over with Northwest Airlines; the flight went very well. Fortunately, the group was bunched together during the flight so we had a nice eight hours to start to get to know one another better. We landed in Amsterdam, Netherlands at approximately 6 AM local time. Most of the group decided to sleep at the airport during our layover time, which was about three hours. Some of the group had gotten enough sleep on the plane and cultured themselves by walking around the modern airport. Soon enough, our second flight was taking off and we were on our way to Tanzania! Like the first flight, this one was also about eight hours long. While soaring through the clouds, we were able to see the tips of the Alps Mountains, which was breath-taking! Shortly after a few more naps, we were finally arriving in our destination of Arusha, Tanzania, AFRICA! We were warmly recieved with a welcome from some of Samson's friends and family. All of us then loaded into one fairly large bus, and headed to The Impala, our first hotel. By this time, it was about midnight. After eating an amazing meal, the group was quick to get to bed and get some real, comfortable sleep.

Lake Manyara Safari (Jan 10th)

Lake Manyara was the first of the three National Parks that we visited. In the morning, we left the Impala Hotel and drove about three hours to the park. We stopped for one of our famous bag lunches and then we drove through the park for about four hours. Everyone was really excited because this was the first time we saw wild animals on the trip. We saw tons of baboons, elephants, and also visited a hippo pool.

After our safari, we headed to the beautiful Bougainvillea Lodge for the night.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Written by Tricia Gantz

Wednesday, January 14 was the first day of our service learning project at the school. We started out with a tour of the school which is actually at a private Lutheran school called Ailanga Lutheran Seminary. The school is a boarding school so the students live at the facility as well. A few years ago they were ranked 34 out of 944 schools in Tanzania and more recently ranked 110 out of 1450. So, it is a pretty good school but they still lack a lot of resources. It is really sad because they rank so high but their buildings and available supplies do not match to the same ranking schools in America. They are currently building a science lab which, as a student, I think is really sad because having hands on learning is really good and I wish they could have had it all along. In defense of the school however, it may not have had one because it was just built in 2003 (even though you can’t tell it’s new—the construction here is not the same as the US).

So, we started off with a quick tour and then they served us breakfast for the tea break, as they call it. Then we split up so we could view some of the classrooms. Another member of our group and I were supposed to be viewing a mathematics class, but somehow we just ended up in a study hall. It worked out fine because the kids just loved talking to us—and of course, us to them. They told me a little bit about their school but they were way more interested in hearing about America. What food do you eat? What animals do you have? What tribe are you from? (that was one of my favorites!) Why do you love Barrack Obama? What is Thanksgiving? All kinds of questions!!!!

After learning about the school we were able to play outside games with them. There was a game of soccer and a game of volleyball. First we had to help set up for the games. The fields needed to be lined, which the ambitious kids of the school did for us. Then, our group picked up large rocks, trash, and cut down the grass using native methods. For this we used a tool that kind of looked like a cross between a hockey stick and a golf club. It was all metal and you would swing at the ground almost like you were trying to hit a golf ball. This would cut the grass down. It was a lot of work. I was really bad at it because let’s face it, I’ve only cut grass with a lawn mower. A lot of people got blisters but it was totally worth it. Then we were ready to let the games begin!

I went to volleyball and it was really fun. It was very interesting though because not one girl wanted to play any games. Our volleyball game was Americans against Tanzanians and our team was all girls except for one, Matthew. It was interesting but really fun. I think the guys there thought it was pretty cool playing against girls. They play really weird though--or so I think. They don’t rotate after a sideout and they said it’s because not many of them know how to serve. So our side rotated while their side didn’t. Also, the never really tried to set up a bump set spike deal. They just sent it over the net if it came their way. Our side was pretty skilled and we set it up a few times. Finally, I think they caught on because on kid said he was going to block me (keep in mind he was like six feet tall and I am like five foot nothin’) and then of course he stuffed the crap out of me. It was really fun though. Everyone was like “OHHHHhhhh!” and I gave him a high five. I don’t think they play that way often so I think he had fun blocking me. All in all, it was so fun and we made some really good friends. I personally got close with three guys in particular; Jimson, the all time referee, Tino, my blocker, and Eban, the all time server.

It was really fun playing with them and getting to know everyone. I will say though, that it was really sad that their court sucked so much. The ground in Tanzania is really rocky and mountainous so it is difficult for them to keep it level. There was one time when I was all by myself but I fell over because it was so rocky. Then on the other side of the court I was on such a high hill I could actually reach the top of the net. It was also hard to run off the hill to get a ball. And forget about diving for saves because it was an automatic cut and bruise because of the weird ground. A few girls tried it and the aftermath didn’t look so pleasant. The students at the school don’t seem to complain though about the court, so I guess in a sense it is okay. I just know how nice it is to play on a court. Oh, some of them don’t have shoes so they play soccer and volleyball in sandals or no shoes at all. I even heard that they sometimes share cleats too—can you imagine that athlete’s foot?

Overall it was an amazing day. Everyone told good stories that night of meeting people in the classes, the interesting curriculum, or the sports later in the day. It seems everyone made some new friends so hopefully we will be able to stay in contact with these wonderful kids!

Safari Blue/ Obama Day January 20, 2009

Obama Party
President Obama Inauguration on the beach

climbing the BIGGEST tree ever!!


on the sandbar...

Our Fabulous group.... minus our #1 Professor Donna (our photographer)
great picture girlfriend :)

group on "Lydia"

Safari Blue- Best Day EVER!!!!!

Heck yea for water camera!!!

miss you all,

Zanzibar January 19, 2009

From Dar es Salaam we took a two hour ferry ride to Zanzibar an Island off the coast of Tanzania. The ferry was fairly large with an open deck on top. It is a good idea to wear your swimsuit if you sit up on the deck, you may get caught off guard by the waves throughout the ride. By the end of the ride we had a clear idea of what salt water tastes like! Once we entered the port of Zanzibar, we were able to view countless fishing boats along the coastline of old stone buildings. We arrived and stayed in Stone Town, Zanzibar. Stone Town is beautiful, I could have explored the town for weeks! Narrow streets and allies were filled with vendors and Muslim men, women, and children. We dropped off our luggage at our hotel and then ate at a local restauraunt, where we ate native food. After lunch we went on a spice tour. We were able to see, smell, touch, and taste the fresh spices grown in Zanzibar. After a warm afternoon at the spice farm we went to one of many beaches on the Zanzibar coast. The tide was low, and we could walk out in knee length water for over a mile! A fabulous day it was :)